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Primary smelting with inert anode


Technology Description

Primary aluminium smelting currently relies on carbon anodes, which produce CO2 as they are consumed during the electrolysis process: the anodes themselves participate in the reaction (they 'pull' oxygen atoms away from alumina - AL2O3 - to produce pure aluminium) and are used up over time. CO2 is also emitted during the production of anodes, which require baking in an oven or furnace. Inert anodes made from alternative materials instead produce pure oxygen instead of CO2 and do not degrade.

Relevance for Net Zero

Inert anodes enable elimination of process emissions from aluminium smelting, which account for a large portion of the industry's direct emissions (much of the remaining associated emissions are direct emissions from the production of the intermediate product alumina from bauxite ore and indirect emissions from electricity consumed). Thus the technology would lead to considerable emission reductions, and other options to reduce process emissions (such as carbon capture and storage) have not been extensively pursued.

Key Countries

Russia, Canada, Germany, Iceland

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